News 2011: Patrick-Murray Administration advances UMass Dartmouth bio-manufacturing center in Fall River

News 2011: Patrick-Murray Administration advances UMass Dartmouth bio-manufacturing center in Fall River
Patrick-Murray Administration advances UMass Dartmouth bio-manufacturing center in Fall River

Facility will anchor bio-park, provide education, training, research and testing facilities for emerging companies, faculty and students

The Patrick-Murray Administration's Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Gregory Bialecki today endorsed plans to move forward with the construction of a first-in-the-nation $23 million bio-manufacturing facility off Route 24 in Fall River. 

The 22,000 square foot UMass Dartmouth Bio-Manufacturing Center, which will house testing laboratories and education spaces, is designed to accelerate the development of the life science industry in the region by providing emerging companies with a place to prove the feasibility of their products to investors. Once the investment is attracted, companies will graduate from the FDA-approved center and be encouraged to expand on abutting land set aside for a bio-park. 

"Investments in innovation, education and regional economies are key components of our job growth strategy and this project is just one of the ways we're putting that strategy into action," said Governor Patrick. "The Bio-Manufacturing Center and larger bio-park promise to connect Fall River and the region to the jobs of tomorrow and build an important life sciences cluster that will benefit the entire Commonwealth for years to come."   

It is anticipated that the overall development at the bio-park will result in the creation of 8,000 new jobs for the region, a $280 million annual payroll and an estimated $275 million in private development investment. 

"This project leverages the Commonwealth's formidable strengths in life sciences and education to create high-quality jobs in this critical region and vital innovation sector," said Secretary Bialecki. 

"We are excited to get this project moving forward,'' said UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack. "This center will inspire our students and faculty to learn and discover, and it will create jobs that will keep our students in the region when they graduate. We look forward to the center becoming a cornerstone of a fast-emerging SouthCoast innovation triangle that also includes our core campus in Dartmouth and our facilities in New Bedford." 

Added Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan: "The construction of the UMass Dartmouth Bio-Manufacturing Center and the establishment of a technology park within our city's borders will enhance our city's image. In the 18th century Fall River was known as a giant in the industry of textiles and now as we embark into the 21st century Fall River is positioned to once again be a giant in industry with the establishment of commerce in the areas of bio-manufacturing, life science, green energy, and solar power." 

"I am glad to see Fall River and UMass Dartmouth step up to become major players in the development of the life science industry in Massachusetts," UMass Trustee and Fall River business leader James Karam. "I want to thank Governor Patrick and Secretary Bialecki for the Commonwealth's investment in this project, which has the potential to transform the region for generations to come." 

Secretary Bialecki said the Commonwealth, through the MassWorks Infrastructure grant  program, will provide $15 million for the project, while UMass Dartmouth will provide $8 million. Life science industry partners are expected to donate millions of dollars of equipment and expertise to the project. 

Under the terms of a written agreement between the University and Fall River, the city will donate four acres of land for the bio-manufacturing facility and set aside 150 acres for companies to expand from the facility into stand alone buildings. The facility will be located on a high profile parcel just off Route 24 near the entrance to the park. The Patrick-Murray Administration is in the process of building an exit ramp from Route 24 into the park. 

Once built, the facility operation will be funded by license and fee-for-service payments from the companies using the facility to develop their products. 

The project is a response to efforts by other states and countries to attract life science companies. Similar facilities have recently been built or are on the drawing board in Singapore, England and Ireland. 

The facility will fill a need for "real life" full-scale equipment that college students will experience in their first jobs.  The facility will provide experiences for the students to ensure that they have been prepared to immediately contribute in their first jobs. The facility will also create professional development opportunities for managers in an industry known for rapid and constant changes in technology and regulation. 

UMass Dartmouth, within its Charlton College of Business and College of Engineering, will develop new programs to match the education needs of the facility. The university recently launched a new undergraduate bio-engineering program, which is the only one of its kind in the UMass system. 

The facility will also engage in collaborations with the University's other innovation centers, including the main campus' 20,000 square foot inter-disciplinary research facility, the Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Center located nearby, and the School for Marine Science and Technology in New Bedford.